Saturday, October 31, 2009

There They Go Again

Once again, the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune has chosen to disregard facts in order to praise their pal Chopra ("Community colleges in a vise"), but the community is answering back.

Several comments on the story attempt to set the record straight, and Phil Lopez, one of the suspended teachers, writes the following:

Your editorial “Community colleges in a vise” omits some very important facts about Southwestern College.

First, no one is proposing that we “drain college reserves” to provide classes for students. At the most recent Governing Board meeting, the public was informed that saving 429 class sections would cost anywhere from $1.3 to $1.7 million. Our current unrestricted reserves are about $11.5 million.

The State Chancellor’s Office recommends a “prudent minimum reserve” of 5%. Reserves at Southwestern College are 11.6%. Simple arithmetic reveals that this is more than twice what is recommended.

Next, your editorial states that faculty could “volunteer to take a pay cut” to help balance the budget. In 2003, faculty voted to do exactly that. However, we were inspired by the leadership of then-President Norma Hernandez who, in another bad budget year, served as Superintendent/President while receiving a Vice President’s pay.

In contrast, our current President, Raj Chopra, got an 8% pay raise last year. No one else on campus received a raise, and, in a bad budget year, we weren’t looking for one. Chopra also gets a $20,000/year housing allowance. His total compensation--salary, housing allowance, car allowance, discretionary expense account, health benefits, and retirement—totals $250,000/year.

Finally, last Spring, the Governing Board filled two vacant administrative positions. If you look at the school website, you will find that the District plans to hire four more new administrators this semester.

While it is certainly true that community colleges are “in a vise,” it is not only “militants” who are suggesting that cuts should begin from the top down, that sacrifices should be shared, or that students—the very heart of our institution—should be the last to be cut.

Philip Lopez
Southwestern College Education Association
For more details on SCEA's position on the budget and how classes and jobs could be preserved, see our earlier post A Plan to Save $2 Million.

Here's Some Press!

La Prensa San Diego says, "Southwestern College community wants answers!"

Previously firmly in Raj K. Chopra's court and supportive of both him and the Governing Board, La Prensa has taken a second look in the wake of recent events. In this editorial, La Prensa sums up current community opinion:
"For those at the college who have been outspoken opponents of the Superintendent, this only confirms their charges that Dr. Chopra's management style is autocratic. For those who have supported Dr. Chopra, this situation has put them into a very uncomfortable position. For those who have taken a wait and see attitude toward this administration, they have seen enough and are no longer in support of the management style of Dr. Chopra. And this has cast a dark shadow over the school board."
Read the entire article at La Prensa San Diego: Southwestern College community wants answers!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Where's the Press?

Yesterday's multi-college rally at Balboa Park received scant attention from the local San Diego media. Here are a couple of notable exceptions:

Channel 8: Protesters rally in Balboa Park against cuts in education
(includes video! Look for SWC folks in yellow shirts towards the end)

The Writer's Washroom: Professors and Students Rally, March, and Protest in the Street

Thanks, Channel 8 and Nickolas Furr!

Apparently anti-education San Diego Union-Tribune was mum on the protest. You can, however, read about gourds at that fine publication.

SWC Faculty and Staff Respond to Alioto's "Update"

Responses to Acting Superintendent/President Alioto (original message linked below)


RE: Call for an explanation
From: Mark Van Stone
Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2009 8:57 PM
To: Nicholas Alioto
Cc: All Staff;; Jorge Dominguez; Jean Roesch; Yolanda Salcido; Terri Valladolid

Dear Vice President Alioto, et al.,

You claim that "No disciplinary action has been taken."

Sure looks "disciplinary" to the rest of us.

Your hair-splitting pettifogging spin on this series of events is spitting into the wind. Nobody is convinced that you did this for the protection of anyone, except yourselves. And for you administrators to hide behind the fine SWC police department, who were surely just following your orders, is sheer cowardice.

Why not admit you haven't a case and immediately reinstate the "not-suspended-just-prohibited-from-doing-their-job" professors? And then open some REAL action towards solving our problems together?

By the way, are you paying for the substitute instructors and the lawyers in this situation out of the Reserve fund, or are you just going to cut more classes to pay for this divisive waste of resources?

Just trying to help,
Mark Van Stone


RE: Update from Acting S/P Alioto
From: Larry Lambert
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 12:46 PM
To: Nicholas Alioto
Cc: All Staff

Tom Holst is a very brave classified professional because he took the time and opportunities to weigh in on these important issues in spite of the vulnerability classified professionals have at this time. I am supporting his effort and adding my voice to his. I sincerely believe that if most Classified Professionals were not so burdened with the culture of fear, retaliation and intimidation that engulfs this college they would be overwhelmingly supportive of our faculty brethren more openly.

The latest rounds of tactics are unforgivable and should be challenged at every step. Trying to make us believe the semantic phlegm that an administrative leave, paid or otherwise, is not punishment is like telling us that it is not dark at night, we're just out of light. We are simply not that stupid and it is consummately insulting that anyone thinks we will actually believe that.

These retaliations by the district only serve to galvanize all of the employees of this college towards one common foe, and now we have four symbols of that unity and solidarity.

The time has come to sit down and speak openly and without hidden agendas. We continue to slip down the dark side of the moon with less and less hope of finding the light if egos and megalomaniacal control issues do not take a back seat long enough to find common ground. At some point we will have a watershed moment and realize that the paralyzing fear we currently feel about losing our career at SWC comes in second place to standing up and openly supporting what is right an honorable. Then we will all stand up and make all our voices heard. When that happens the Governing Board will pay attention, there will not be any other choice.


Larry B. Lambert
Online Instructional Support Specialist


RE: Update from Acting S/P Alioto
From: Eliana Santana
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 10:54 AM
To: Nicholas Alioto
Cc: All Staff

Mr. Alioto,

I'd be interested in seeing the evidence you have collected that these three faculty members were engaged in a violent act with the police. Where is the evidence? Besides, if they were involved in violence with the police, there would be an arrest and charges filed. Where are the charges and where is the police report?

The community would like transparency in this matter.

Eliana Santana-Williamson, Ed.D
Professor of ESL and ESL Coordinator at San Ysidro


RE: Update from Acting S/P Alioto
From: Tom Holst
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 11:05 AM
To: Nicholas Alioto
Cc: All Staff

To all who would give a hoot, I took my lunch break and went down in my CSEA t-shirt to show support for our students. I arrived as the last speakers finished. There were a couple of students who urged the group to "take it to the streets." I followed the procession down to the 100 area where they were redirected around the 100 building where the procession stopped at the breezeway between 102 and 100 building. The police blocked all breezeways. At the 102 breezeway I watched the group question the police as to why they could not enter area. The Sergeant and 1 other cop explained they could not allow disruption of campus business. I saw absolutely no angry confrontation in any shape or form. A couple of male students were a bit loud but the crowd quickly lost interest and dispersed. A petition was passed around for a minute or two. I went back to work. I was within 10 feet of the whole thing. This whole thing is just ridiculous. My belated break is over now. Back to work. PS: I support what is good and right for SWC based on truth, honesty and facts. Tom


Re: Update from Acting S/P Alioto
From: Dan Moody
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 10:39 AM
To: Nicholas Alioto
Cc: All Staff

Dear Mr. Alioto,

Congratulations on your promotion to acting Superintendent-President.

I was interested to read your statement that the College Police are saying that this situation "compromised the safety" of others, and very surprised that these three teachers are being accused of "physical confrontation with police officers." As someone who knows these three teachers as I do, I find this allegation absolutely impossible to believe.

--Dan Moody


Alioto's original message.

We will post more responses from SWC faculty and staff as permission is received.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Revelations and Equivocations


At today's faculty union (SCEA) meeting, it was revealed that in addition to questioning faculty, the administration has been calling in not only students who attended the 22 October rally but those who spoke at the earlier 14 October Governing Board Meeting.

Unlike faculty, students are not protected by a union or other organized group. One faculty member suggested that affected students contact the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)

At the same time, the teacher suspensions are drawing the interest of several groups. CCA (the Community College Association) is already involved. CCA is the higher education affiliate of the California Teacher's Association (CTA). Nationally, CCA is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA), the largest public employee association in the country. Both CTA and NEA are also taking an interest in the case.

In addition, the local chapters of the ACLU and NAACP have expressed a desire to assist in the case, as have organizations like FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) and the Center for Campus Free Speech.


At 5:02 p.m. Acting Superintendent/President Nicholas Alioto (currently in charge with Chopra on vacation) issued a statement addressed to the "College Community." In the statement, Alioto claims that "no faculty have been suspended, as that is a disciplinary action. No disciplinary action has been taken."

This claim will no doubt come as a surprise to the faculty who have been left in limbo while indefinitely barred from campus and unable to teach their classes. It will probably also come as a surprise to everyone in the "College Community" who recognizes the administration's actions as an attempt to intimidate and to silence dissent.

Alioto's statement also cites "three areas" of "concern":
"a) Incitement of students to move outside the free speech area and to violate College policies"
"b) Disregard for warnings and directives of police officers"
"c) Physical confrontation with police officers"
For anyone who was present, these accusations are laughable. For those affected, they surely constitute "disciplinary action."

And More Press

From the Writer's Washroom:

From Student Activism:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Thursday afternoon, there will be a multi-college rally to protest the budget cuts that have been hitting local colleges:

Balboa Park,
corner of President's (hmm) Way and Park Blvd. 3:00 pm.

Here's the flyer

For more information call: 619-640-1155

More Press

From Inside Higher Ed:
Confessions of a Community College Dean: Power 101

From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE):
Community College in California Suspends Four Professors Without Explanation Following Peaceful Protest

From the Center for Campus Free Speech:
Suspended for Walking Across Campus?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rally on Thursday!

Thursday afternoon, there will be a multi-college rally to protest the budget cuts that have been hitting local colleges:

Balboa Park,
corner of President's (hmm) Way and Park Blvd. 3:00 pm.

Here's the flyer

For more information call: 619-640-1155

Supensions in the News

Here is a partial listing of the news outlets, blogs, and other sources that have picked up the story:

Numerous other sites, like The Center for Campus Free Speech and Student Activism, are also reposting articles and getting the word out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Update Onslaught

Suffice it to say that there is more press--local, bloggical, national--coming in right now than we can keep up with. We'll try to have it all compiled for you by tomorrow morning. . . . In the meantime, you can check our twitter feed at for ongoing updates.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

SWC Visual Arts Chair Speaks at October Board Meeting

Board Presentation, 14 October 2009.

I am Elizabeth Sisco, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and Gallery director.

I did not come here tonight to tell you how much Visual Arts and the Gallery are suffering.

You already know!

You crippled the gallery by firing the performing arts coordinator. The handout I have given you shows how her "non-existent work" has been divided up among the faculty and staff of the School of Arts and Communication. You deepened the wound by tacitly agreeing to cut off the release time for the gallery director.

You denied education to hundreds of deserving students by cutting classes two years in a row, while approving raises and hiring more administrators. Visual Arts will cut an additional twenty-two classes in Spring 2010. That equates to 800 students without classes. 800 students who turn to education in harsh economic times to better their chances of employment and find community support. Through your action 800 people will be out on the streets.

The title of the next Gallery exhibit is "Hit!" It is our Biennial Faculty exhibit. The poster depicts a ship sinking with our adjunct faculty adrift at sea. The administration's decision to balance the budget by cutting payroll will leave 8 fine teachers without work at SWC and 14 others with a reduced schedule.

You already know how hard we have been hit. What I don't know, and what most of us in this room tonight don't know, is how to speak so you will open communication.

At Board meetings last year I heard the community appeal to you in every imaginable way; with factual information and reasonable options. Bob Filner tried to cajole you into reversing your Blackwater decision. Corina Soto asked you to consult your higher self, your values and ideals before voting on the Reorganization plan. I wrote to Dr. Roesch three times regarding release time. These voices fell on deaf ears and stone faces.

The only voice I have seen you respond to is that of Dr. Chopra issuing threats that he will quit if you do not back his dictatorship. It feels like Animal Farm at Southwestern College.

We just completed Accreditation. It occurred to me what a discredit to our college this administration is.

I appeal to you to save Southwestern College. Do not balance the budget on the backs of our students. Do not cut classes.

I appeal to you to open dialog with us. Heal the wounds of the past two years. Let us move forward in support of our College mission "to benefit the student."

Thank you.

Please Help Promote Save Our Southwestern College

We have created printable window signs (suitable for office or rear car window display).

To print, choose color or greyscale from the links below.

Change the orientation to "landscape" and delete any margins in Page Set-up. Print (on normal or high quality setting) and fold over. Display.

Color Window Sign

Greyscale Window Sign

Letter to Board from South Bay Forum President

Jose Preciado, president of the community group South Bay Forum, sent the following letter to SWC Governing Board members:

19 October 2009

Dear Board Members:

I am writing to express interest in your current business model.

As you proceed to reduce course sections, the matter of the reserve has not been fully explained. Board members and faculty have shared with me that you recently went to New York to work with someone or some groups in establishing
your credit rating. Members of the faculty have shared with me that you are not working collaboratively with them in developing policy to meet the educational mission of the campus. So, the speculation is that you have decided to maintain multiple priorities during these trying budget times and as such you have subjugated the educational mission of the campus to a secondary goal in order to maintain and expand the physical plant. In fact, some are suggesting that for some of you the physical plant is more important. What are we not understanding about your leadership of the campus that makes your board colleagues and the faculty reach out to us inviting our involvement? Questioning your motives? Making these types of claims about your priorities?

The area of inquiry then centers on your rationale for prioritizing construction bond related goals of the college during a period of time when you are experiencing unprecedented course offering reductions. Why are you unwilling to use reserves to meet the instructional budget gaps created by the state and national recessions? Should you delay any work on the bonds and construction given that you are reducing student enrollment? Why do you need physical plant expansion now--given that you are losing funds to offer coursework and you have under-utilized satellite campuses?

Our region, students, working families, and residents in general need access to the educational offerings that only your college has. So please share with us if you have decided to cut classes as a last resort. Have you chosen to protect your credit rating to sell bonds instead of reducing your reserve to bridge your instructional budget deficit? Will you consider fee increases to maintain access to the college? Bond related construction or coursework---Which comes first in your view?

Please advise.

I am copying your cheerleaders on La Prensa's Editorial Board and the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board to see if they have a perspective on this.

Jose Preciado, President
South Bay Forum

SWC Classified Employees Union (CSEA) Vote of No Confidence


Date: May 27, 2009

Authored by: California School Employees Association (CSEA), Chapter 524

Title: Vote of No Confidence in Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra

WHEREAS, CSEA Chapter 524, of Southwestern College, the exclusive bargaining representative for classified employees, fundamentally disagrees with many of the decisions and priorities of the current Superintendent/President, and

WHEREAS, CSEA members are joined with our Academic Senate colleagues and Council of Chairs and wholly support their recent collective comments and actions, and

WHEREAS, due to recent actions taken by the Superintendent/President to reorganize the Southwestern College campus with a complete lack of regard for Southwestern College’s standing commitment to its own Shared Governance Guidelines adopted by the District on January 8, 1997, which in part state as follows:

Shared Governance is the act of District employees participating collegially in the decision-making process of the college. The goal of shared governance is to include, within the decision-making process, representatives of all college constituencies affected by these decisions… To ensure that governance is shared, all groups shall operate within the shared governance processes. Mutual trust and support are essential for the success of shared governance. These result from a demonstration by each group involved that they first seek to improve the college and strengthen its ability to carry out the college’s mission of educating our constituent populations…; and

WHEREAS, CSEA members take great exception to the process by which the Superintendent/President makes decisions. After promising collaboration on the proposed reorganization, no input from CSEA leadership was requested prior to the presentation of the completed plan to the Governing Board. Thus CSEA Chapter 524 expresses no confidence in the
leadership of the Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra, now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that Southwestern College CSEA Chapter 524 unites with our academic colleagues and solemnly votes no confidence in Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra, and

BE IT RESOLVED, that CSEA Chapter 524 urges the Southwestern College District Governing Board to take swift, direct and deliberate action to address CSEA concerns as expressed clearly by the vote of no confidence at the May 27, 2009 resolution vote.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CSEA urges the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board to open dialogue formally with the faculty and CSEA leadership prior to June 15, 2009 for purposes of addressing concerns, and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that CSEA respectfully requests that the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board provide a written response to this resolution by June 15, 2009 detailing the Governing Board’s plan to improve the relationship between the Superintendent/President, the faculty and the classified staff of Southwestern College, and to ensure true shared governance at Southwestern College as defined by: Education Code Sections 70902(b) (7), Title 5 Sections 53200 et seq, 51023.5 and 51023.7; and Accreditation Standards IV A.2. and IV.A.5, as we are gravely concerned that allowing this issue to go unresolved could adversely affect accreditation and have other long-term negative consequences.

Teacher Suspensions in the News

An updated San Diego Union Tribune article with additional details:

4 Faculty at college suspended after rally
Southwestern crowd protests cuts, admin

Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

SWC Teacher Suspensions Update

We still have no details on the justification for the suspensions, though the district denies that participation in the student rally played a role.

One faculty member, Janet Mazzarella, has been cleared to return to work on Monday. The other three remain suspended.

UPDATED: SWC President Raj K. Chopra is on vacation for three weeks, effective today. He was present to sign the orders of Withdrawal of Consent (to access the campus).

Human Resources Director Jackie Osborne (who helped serve the suspension notices) is also on vacation effective today.

San Diego Union-Tribune article
addressing the suspensions.

SWC Teachers Suspended after Rally Participation

Last night, four SWC teachers received hand-delivered letters informing them they had been placed on paid academic leave. The letters cite California Penal Code Section 626.4, which empowers the chief administative officer (in this case, President Raj K. Chopra) of a community college to deny his "consent to remain on campus" to anyone who "has willfully disrupted the orderly operation" of the college.

Withdrawal of consent means that instructors Dinorah Guadiana-Costa, Phil Lopez, Janet Mazzarella, and Andrew Rempt cannot step on campus or use their swc email accounts without risking a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. According to 626.4, the period of withdrawal can last up to 14 days or until the President believes that the individuals do not "constitute a substantial and material threat to the orderly operation of the campus."

In the meantime, these four teachers are unable to instruct their students during a critical period of the semester.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Student Rally!

Today's rally at SWC marked the beginning of a new era of activism for SWC students, staff, faculty, and even a few administrators.

The theme was "got classes?" and the message was clear.

With police officers standing by, one student after another took to the open mic, expressing how the class cuts were impacting not just themselves but their families and communities.

As the "free speech hour" drew to a close, participants decided to take their message beyond approved confines and marched to President Raj K. Chopra's office, where police blocked their way.

Student leadership says this rally is just the beginning.

Student Rally Today!

got classes?

The administration of SWC has decided that roughly 430 classes will be cut from the Spring ‘10 schedule. This reduction is nearly 25% of the course offerings and means that throughout the catalogue; almost 1 out of every 4 classes will not be offered for the students who are nearing graduation or transfer.

Most of the UC and CSU schools have begun closing their doors to new and transfer students due to the economic crisis. This limited availability of SWC courses may cause many students to wait another year or more beyond their desired transfer date and eliminate their ability to obtain their goals on time.

On October 14th, 2009, numerous students spoke out against these cuts; their voices were not heard. The Governing Board of SWC voted against holding a special meeting to discuss alternatives to these class cuts to better serve the students of Southwestern College.


Join us in rallying against these class cuts and finally
be heard!

between the cafeteria
and the SWC Bookstore

Information Alert!

Information Alert #3

Chopra claims that despite cuts, no current students will be turned away, and courses necessary for transfer and graduation will remain intact. Here are the facts:

Spring cuts to courses needed for graduation, certificates and transfer:

  • Spring 2010, Math cut 52 sections. Last spring there were 47sections of Math that were taught from 1:30 PM through the evening.
  • Math cut from 80 sections in summer 2009 to 15 sections in summer 2010. There will be 8 sections of math offered on the main campus.
  • Currently the efficiency in MSE is 97% so there are not many available seats for students.
  • Spring 2010, English 71 cut 21% of the sections from this basic skills course. This fall there were 821 students on wait lists.
  • Spring 2010, English 114 cut 21% of the sections from this transfer and AA required course. This fall there were 270 students on wait lists.
  • Spring 2010 English 115 cut 22% of the sections from this transfer and AA required course. This fall there were 330 students on wait lists.
  • The total number of sections cut from the English department for spring is 43.

On October 14, 2009, many students, faculty, and community members gave 2 hours of testimony regarding the adverse impact cutting classes will have on students and programs. The Board voted 4-1 to NOT have a special meeting where these concerns could be discussed and other options considered. Why is this Governing Board, on the advice of this administration, choosing to sit on millions of dollars in reserves rather than even discuss how we can best serve our students and this community?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Governing Board Meeting, cont'd

Among those speaking at Wednesday night's board meeting were several department chairs. Transcripts of two of their talks appear below.

Randy Beach, SWC Chair of English and Presiding Chair, Council of Chairs:

Governing Board Members and Superintendent President Chorpa, my name is Randy Beach and I am the
English Department Chair and Presiding Chair of the Council of Chairs. I’m here to help make clear for you the impact of the class cuts we’ve been asked to make in the English program.

In order to reduce our course offerings to the level of FTES mandated by the Vice President of Academic Affairs office while trying to maintain some integrity and diversity in our program, we’ve cut 21% of our Chula Vista campus English 71 classes, the first level in our
English sequence. Chairs and deans were not allowed to make cuts at any centers.

21% means 150 students are now stuck. They’ve worked hard to make their way through our ESL program or placed into this basic skills class through assessment. But there they will sit. That’s one out of every five students who needs
English 71. By the way, 821 students were on waitlists for English 71 in Fall 2009.

We’ve cut 21% of our
English 114 classes. Now, 270 students will not have an opportunity to meet the prerequisite required to move on to the next level of English. Nor will they have a chance to improve their basic essay writing skills which are fundamental to success in classes across the curriculum. 691 students were on the waitlist for 114 at the beginning of Fall 2009. These 691 students did not get into English 114 in Fall 2009, so the question now is what are
their chances now that we’ve eliminated an additional 270 seats?

We’ve cut 11 sections from
English 115 here at this campus. That’s 22% of students who may want to transfer or graduate who can’t because we decided to cut sections and fire instructors rather than find additional funding through creative methods even if that requires sacrifice from everyone on campus. That’s 330 students who won’t transfer to SDSU, Berkeley, UCLA or anywhere or get their degree after years of hard work. This should not be acceptable.

All in all 43
English sections were cut, 26% of our offerings. 1 in 4 students will not get an English class they need. Is this what we are willing to accept at Southwestern or can we go back to the drawing board and approach our problem with more creativity? I urge you to suspend any new administrative or director positions, put the aspirations we have for the centers on hold and shut one or more down for a year, and consider the budget-saving plan put forth by the faculty union, SCEA.

Finally, the Governing Board has yet to address the No Confidence resolutions put forth by the Academic Senate and the Council of Chairs back in Spring 2009. These resolutions, while they concerned Dr. Chopra, were expressions of frustration that the Governing Board seems to be willfully blind to the lack of shared governance and collaboration between all groups on campus that has led to an environment of mistrust and hostility. We’re still waiting to hear from you.

Thank You


Tinh Khoung, SWC Chair of Physical Sciences:

Members of the Southwestern College Governing Board and Superintendent/President Chopra,

The Department of Physical Sciences which includes the disciplines of Astronomy, Chemistry, Engineering, Earth Sciences and Physics reports the current and future impact of the mandatory 25% (28 sections cut of 109 total sections) course reductions made to the Spring and Summer terms in 2010 over the ~10% course reductions that have occurred over the past year and a half.

The academic impacts of the course reductions are:

1. Between 500 and 800 science students will be unable to take a course.

2. Evening courses have been decimated, leaving a significant segment of the community without access to highly sought, impacted courses in the sciences.

3. It will be increasingly difficult for students to complete coursework in these demanding and critical fields at a time when the President Obama himself has called upon community colleges to help produce graduates in these disciplines.

4. With the dearth of general education sections, it will be impossible to draw students to explore these disciplines.

5. The reduced number of adjunct faculty in these small disciplines will greatly impact the intellectual richness of the college.

6. Southwestern College’s ability to garner external funding could be adversely affected by a lack of success in important Career Technical Education programs such as Pharmaceutical and Laboratory Science and Geospatial Technology, the establishments of which were brought about by several hundreds of thousands of grant dollars from the National Science Foundation.

The human impacts of the course reductions are:

1. Career adjunct instructors with families are losing their jobs solely because they’ve been loyal to Southwestern College.

2. Budding teachers, many of whom are outstanding, will also be unemployed.

3. With the loss of these instructors, we will lose many years of experience and discipline-specific memory.

4. Industrial connections that lead to internships and jobs will be lost.

5. For the future, it may be difficult to replace them once courses are reinstated, as they surely will be.

Furthermore, the Department is dismayed that the community was led to believe that running a handful of course offerings over the summer somehow constitutes a Summer Session.


Tinh-Alfredo V. Khuong, Ph.D.
Prof of Chemistry, Chair of Physical Sciences

Friday, October 16, 2009

SWC Governing Board Meeting Protest

It was SRO (Standing Room Outside) at Wednesday night's much-anticipated board meeting

Despite numerous appeals from staff, students, and community members to relocate the meeting to a larger venue on campus, President Raj Chopra and Governing Board members chose to keep the meeting in tiny Room 214, seating capacity 85.

As a result, most of those attending this "public" meeting were left standing outside, straining to hear the proceedings over a pair of small speakers as the news media looked on.

For almost two hours, a steady stream of both full- and part-time faculty, students, and community members stepped to the microphone, pleading for the Governing Board to reject Chopra's planned elimination of 25% of course sections for the coming Spring 2010 semester. The Board was unmoved.

We hope to have text of the speeches posted soon.

In the meantime view these two segments from Channel 8 News:

Southwestern College cuts classes and teachers

Protest of big class cuts at Southwestern College

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ASO Recommendations

In response to the threat of widespread class cuts, the SWC Associated Students Organization produced the following documents:

Spring/Summer '10 FTES Reduction Recommendations

Spring '10 Course Offering Recommendations

These are pdf files and require Acrobat Reader, available free from

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Plan to Save $2 Million

Presented at the SCEA (faculty union) meeting on Thursday, October 8.

1. Reduce the Governing Board reserve by $1 million.

2. GASB: Our current budget will put an additional $500,000 into a fund for medical benefits for retirees. This fund already totals $1.3 million. In addition, our current budget will provide about $380,000 for this year’s cost of retiree medical benefits.

Skipping this year’s GASB contribution and funding this year’s cost of retiree medical benefits from the existing GASB fund will save about $880,000—and nearly $1 million will still remain in the GASB bank.

3. Items 1 and 2 will save $1.8 million. Salaries for management employees at SWC total about $6 million. A temporary 2% reduction in these salaries would free up an additional $120,000.

Taken together, items 1, 2, and 3 are equal to the current budget shortfall of $2 million. If this plan, or something similar, were adopted, not one adjunct faculty member would lose a job, not one full-time faculty member would lose an overload assignment, and most important, not one student would lose a class.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Led Us to Here

A Timeline Documenting Adversarial Leadership Style/Lack of Cooperation/Interference


Nov. 2004: Martha Graham, Director of Research, suddenly announces retirement in March 05, takes a medical leave, and does not return. She recommends Analyst Brandon Aneiri to take her place at our Academic Program Review meetings. Academic Program Review (APR) goes smoothly despite the loss.

Fall 2005-Spring 2006: APR Committee reviews and streamlines APR process and takes it through consultation for input from Academic Senate, Deans, at each School Meeting, and Department Chairs. Cycle is shortened to review every 3 years with annual review of Summary Work Plan. SLOs are added to Component V as a whole Criterion 1 with annual review integrated. Process is adopted with unanimous support. (Please note that clerical support for this was requested and not provided.)

New design for “snapshot” of research data is designed by Brandon and piloted for review through consultation again and unanimously approved. The goal is to program the data for annual production for each program on campus.

Fall 2006: New Chair, Veronica Burton, of APR starts two-year tenure for Senate.

Spring 2006-Fall 2006: College denies programming by Brandon. After months of requests, programming is finally approved.

New Director of Research, Darlene Cole, is hired and starts Fall 2006. This results in disruption of APR data such that no APRs can occur in 06-07 or 07-08 due to the lack of data. Darlene Cole resigns in Feb. 2007 and is hired as a private consultant for Fall 2007 start. APR Committee is uninformed of resignation until May 2007 meeting despite numerous requests by Ms. Burton for information.

Fall 2007: Despite hiring as a private consultant, Ms. Cole produces no useable data for 07-08. Some programs go forward with APR with no data; others wait.

Aug. 2007: Ms. Burton resigns as APR Chair in protest over Vice President of Academic Affairs Dyste’s actions surrounding APR. An emergency election by Senate takes place and Richard Fielding is elected to a one-year term.

Fall 2007-Spring 2008 and Fall 2008-Spring 2009: Ms. Cole’s company, CoBro produces APR data characterized by delays, changes to definitions with no consultation, and confusion and frustration by programs and their deans. Repeated requests are made by our Senate President for the hiring of an “in-house” Director of Research with no action taken.


2003-2005: Please refer to SLO History and Plan for details.

Fall 2005-Spring 2007: No action is taken on development of SLOs due to disruption of all college Senate committees by instability in administration. Much interference and pressure by certain members of the Governing Board in Senate work prevented forward progress here, including policy approvals.

This culminated with the resignation of President Norma Hernandez at the end of Spring 2006 over the appointment by the Governing Board of Ron Dyste as Vice-President of Academic Affairs. Ron Dyste was/is a personal friend and colleague of then Governing Board member David Agosto. Mr. Dyste’s experience is only in Student Services as is Mr. Agosto’s. Greg Sandoval serves as interim President in Summer 2006 until Dr. Yoneji is formally appointed as interim in Aug. 2006. By Feb. 2007 Dr. Yoneji is fired by the Governing Board. Dr. Chopra is hired and begins Fall 2007.

Fall 2007-Spring 2008: The SLO Coordinator, Alma Aguilar, goes out on medical leave for the rest of the year. Patti Flores-Charter is asked to step in as SLO Coordinator at the end of October. She receives no release time. Despite her requests to attend CCC and ACCJC sponsored trainings, Mr. Dyste refuses.

Fall 2007: A new SLO Committee is formed with decisions made quickly on use of CurriCUNET, SLOs as addendum to Course Outlines, and Spring 2008 Opening Day planned to begin implementation of writing phase of SLOs.

Spring 2008: Opening Day focus is on SLOs, and writing of SLOs begins in School meetings with SLO Committee support. Goal is implementation in Fall 2008 with assessment at the end of Fall 2008.

By Feb. the VP of Human Resources is fired, VP of Fiscal resigns, and Mr. Dyste resigns. Dr. Chopra takes on roles to save money. Chaos ensues.

Trainings and support for writing course SLOs is provided formally via Staff Development and one-on-one trainings. SLO Committee begins work on organization of Program SLOs and SLO web site. SLO Liaisons are identified by program with communication structured from the SLO Committee to the Liaisons to the program faculty. The system works.

Fall 2008: Course SLOs are implemented and continue to be written. Program SLO plan goes out for consultation and is adopted unanimously. Work with web team occurs and SLO web test-site is erected. Writing by the SLO Chair of documents occurs with review by SLO Committee members. To support assessment of SLOs and posting of aggregate results, eLumen is adopted.

Because we had no Research Office, SLO committee requests that faculty collect informal data for possible use once we have an office. No support exists for quality development of assessment measures or for data collection.

Spring 2009: February meetings held with web team and Eva Hedger, new Supervisor in Office of Instruction and of CurriCUNET. Plan is to go live with SLO web site until web developer Eli Singh is fired via a campus-wide reorganization the end of February. College stops all web site work in Spring and Summer.


January 2009: eLumen is to go live. Faculty volunteers are excited and ready to beta test. This is delayed by CSS.

April 2009: eLumen is to go live; however, by May eLumen test site is still not live. Serious problems with computing persist on campus.

Fall 2009: New Dean over Research, Evaluation and Planning is finally hired. Our SLO Committee is guardedly optimistic that we will be able to make solid and quick progress on our SLO assessment requirements now.

Additional continuing concerns about college:

Budget lacks short or long-term plan and no process for quick collaborative action as conditions change:

1) Poor planning and management of long-term funding for operational costs of Centers. Very low enrollment at Otay is causing danger of cuts to state funding.

2) Last minute directives to cut large percentages of classes as stop-gap solutions to the lack of planning. Last year cuts of course sections included 10% in Fall with another 5% shortly thereafter.

3) SWC Associated Students Organization (ASO) president and senators worked through the weekend of Sept. 23/24 and put together a 14-page document detailing alternative options to cutting classes as this causes direct problems for students finishing degrees, certificates and transfer requirements in a timely and cost effective way. On Wed., Sept. 30 this group of students worked all night on another document in response to this latest round of course cuts.

4) Two weeks ago right before our Spring 2010 class schedule should be going to print and getting posted online, our Department Chairs were told to make another quick round of larger cuts to our Spring offerings. This delays student access to the schedule of classes for planning with Spring registration just a month away.

5) Accreditation site visit begins Monday, Oct. 5. This process was flawed continuously by Dr. Chopra’s and the Governing Board’s lack of participation with our campus Accreditation Committee.

Here are two of numerous examples of what became a time-consuming and stress-filled preparation process for writing our Accreditation Report and preparation for our site visit:

  • This process includes a two-year self-study process (Fa 07-Sp 09) in which a committee is formed and in the first year of the self-study is required to interview and gather a "culture of evidence" responding to the requirements of 4 Accreditation Standards. Dr. Chopra and the Governing Board refused to work directly with our committee for Part 2 of Standard IV requirements on Leadership and Governance, despite a year spent (Fa 07-Sp-08) trying to schedule interviews and gather information as required.

  • The first year of the self-study we only had two faculty chairs leading and organizing the process as the administrator (Dyste) designated by the President did not attend meetings or participate. He resigned in Spring 2008.

    Instead documents for Part 2 of Standard IV were prepared unilaterally by the President's Office with no communication and brought to the Accreditation Chairs in Fall 2008 for inclusion in the written report. This lack of cooperation and collaboration is unheard of in the Accreditation process.

Fall 2009: A blog, Save Our Southwestern College, is created as an opportunity to inform our community about what is happening at our college.